Artful Dodgers: Concealing Home Technology with Design

In an effort to inspire the maker movement, Google commissioned 24 designers to create unique covers for its OnHub Wi-Fi router. These clever solutions to a common problem — ugly routers on display — include an oversize kinetic take on a children’s toy, a paint-splattered lamp, a marbled clay bowl, a furry creature-like form, and a pedestal intended for art display.

Ugly home technology is the bane of our domestic existence. A cluster of mismatched, tangled cables can bring down the look of even most tastefully appointed room. Ever-growing television sets take up an ungodly amount of wall space, and charging cables are just never around when you need them. The worst one, though, may just be the Wi-Fi router. Covered with randomly blinking lights, wonky antennas and unruly wires, routers are the ultimate home technology eyesore. In order to get the best possible signal, they should be placed in the open, not hidden away. But who wants a router as a centerpiece?

Google is willing to bet you do.

When it was released last year, Google described their new OnHub router as “simple, fast and really, really ridiculously good looking.” The simple cylindrical shape is, indeed, more attractive than most routers, but it’s no objet d’art. The big idea? Challenge makers to elevate the OnHub to a piece of art deserving of a central place in a design connoisseur’s home.

For its OnHub Maker Series, Google commissioned 24 designers and artists working in a wide range of mediums to create unique router shells. The results display a range of innovative, imaginative solutions.

Maple plywood slinky

LA-based creative studio Brook&Lyn created an oversized version of a slinky, made from laser-cut maple plywood. It’s a beautiful kinetic sculpture that manages to be both charmingly playful and artfully serious.

Marble clay bowl technology

Potter Helen Levi‘s marbled clay bowl turns new technology into something classic — a ceramic vessel used to store things. There’s something very poetic about that. NYC design studio Bower opted to make an simple marble pedestal. It’s not art, but a vehicle for art display. Artist Katie Stout turned hers into a wildly expressive, paint-splattered lamp, another example of turning the router into something more practically useful. On the complete other end of the spectrum, Thing Industries‘ furry creature-like form is useless, but oh-so-delightful.

Thing industries home technology

Ultimately, this is not a line of router covers that you can buy (although some of the makers have opted to sell their shells through their own websites), but rather a project intended to inspire creativity and evoke DIY-spirit. Everything you need (3D files, 2D patterns and guidelines) to create your own cover is available for download on the OnHub Makers site.

Splattered paint lamp

This is all part of a movement toward making home technology simpler and more beautiful. The goal? To have nothing in our homes that we would ever want to hide